From the Times...
The worst drought in half a century has parched fields across eight
provinces in northern China and left nearly four million people without proper
drinking water. Not a drop of rain has fallen on Beijing for more than 100
days, the longest dry spell for 38 years in a city known for its arid climate.
The Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters described the
drought as a phenomenon “rarely seen in history” as the Government declared a
state of emergency.
The drought could hardly have come at a worse time for the leadership, which is already gearing for possible social instability with some 20 million rural
migrants now out of work after losing their jobs in coastal factories and in
cities. Many have returned to work their farms while they wait for the economic
climate to improve but may now find they are unable to grow a harvest with no
water for irrigation.
The absence of rain or snow since November has affected 9.5 million hectares of farmland - 43 per cent of the winter wheat sources.
One agriculture expert said that the drought could reduce annual production
in major wheat-growing areas by 2 to 5 percent. Ma Wenfeng said: “The
severest-hit regions of Henan and Anhui will see their wheat harvest down by
about 20 percent.”